By Anthony Rhoads
When Lovejoy High School nearly 15 years ago, Richard Westbrook was there at the beginning and built school's cross country program from scratch.
In the team's first year, the Wildcats captured the both the boys and girls Clayton County championship, a feat they would repeat 12 more times.
After turning Lovejoy into a county, region and state power in cross country, Westbrook is in the middle of building another cross country program.
This fall, Westbrook started as head cross country and track coach at the new Luella High School in McDonough.
"It was mixed emotions leaving Lovejoy," Westbrook said. "I wasn't looking to leave but the opportunity came up here at Luella. I still am in contact with some of the kids at Lovejoy and follow what they are doing. They let me know they're ahead of us."
At Luella this year, Westbrook has a young team made of mainly of freshmen and sophomores.
"They're very young but they work hard and they're improving," Westbrook said. "We're not there yet but we are working to get there."
In last Wednesday's Henry County Championships, the Luella girls tied with Union Grove for third place and the Luella boys were fifth out of five teams.
"This is the first time in 24 years I haven't won a county meet; that takes some getting used to," he said.
Westbrook definitely knows how to build a cross country program. Lovejoy not only won 13 straight Clayton County championships but the Wildcats won several region and other meet titles. In 1991, the Lovejoy boys won the Class AAAA state championship.
Westbrook also coached at Riverdale High School before moving to Lovejoy.